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The title of my article is borrowed from a book of great truth. Some books, although not biblical in origin, bear great truth nonetheless. Had I read this book several weeks ago, I may have saved myself a great deal of labor.
Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo, is more than a child’s book of the Dr. Seuss series. It is in my opinion a manuscript of sacred truth often unrealized in the life of a leader.
Let me explain, in Because a Little Bug went Ka- Choo, Rosetta Stone describes the extreme chain of events that unfold as a result of a little bug sneezing. At first a seed is dropped. Of which a worm gets hit, who then gets mad and kicks a tree. Because he kicks the tree a coconut drops causing the turtle to get bopped… And so on until the final scene describes the entire town turned into utter chaos as fire trucks and town parades collide into a frenzied explosion of pandemonium.
A friend gave me this book the other night after I finished the complete renovation of her kitchen. The inscription she wrote inside the first page of the book says, “Jim, let this book be a reminder the next time someone calls you to help them install just a stove."
Here’s how it started. Alison’s father bought her a stove for her birthday. He called me to see if I could install it for him. Sounds easy enough, so off I go to help my friend. After the opening was measured, it was found that the new stove was 1 inch larger than the old one which meant that the counter top was going to have to be cut. However, Jim can’t just cut the counter top and get out of there. No, he reads in the newest Menards add that counter tops are on sale for 44.00. 44.00, that’s a penance for what it will do for the look of the kitchen! After explaining to Alison’s dad that it is just as easy to install a new counter top as it is to remove the old one, cut it, re-laminate new sides and then re- install it. The dad says, “Go for it!”
So we take the old counter top off and find that the wall behind it is extremely deteriorated and the cabinets are destroyed from a leak in the drain that had been around for quite some time. Drywall needs replaced as a result and the wiring updated. And so on and so on… At each turn, we find that something extra is needed to be done.
To make a long story short, when we were finished, Alison had a kitchen complete with new drywall, plumbing, electric switches and outlets, lighting, a water line for the ice maker, garbage disposal, sink, faucets, linoleum, carpet strips, breakfast bar, an enlarged doorway, exhaust fan, oak cabinets, and yes…a new stove. However, now that we removed the washing machine from the kitchen, a new utility room has been plumbed and is waiting on a gas line to be installed in order to supply the dryer. When that’s done, I’m sneaking in there in the cover of night to hook up that dryer before anyone gets any more bright ideas.
And it all started because a little bug sneezed. Or in this case, because Alison’s dad bought here a stove for her birthday.
Do we ever consider the sneezes in our life that begin a chain of far-reaching events. Who would have ever thought that the desire of Christopher Columbus to find new trade route would end up a new found continent of several nations and a Super Power in our present day world.
Who would have thought that a prayer meeting in a bible college would lead to a movement which would lead to an outpouring which would reach around the world affecting millions of people.
Who would have thought that a bug sneezing would create a chain of events which would someday change the landscape of the entire world.
Who would have thought that your prayer would ultimately affect so many people. Who would have thought that your financial gift to a struggling ministry would culminate in a nation being reached with Truth. Who would have thought that your almost insignificant sacrifice would accomplish so much. Only the fulfillment of lifetimes will tell the whole story.
You may wonder at times if your work for God is nothing more than a “sneeze”. You may question if it is even significant. What will it lead to? What will come of it? Who will be affected? How many will follow?
Can I suggest to you that your lifetime may not provide the answer to that question. Your influence on someone’s life may in fact reach beyond your years.
How could Martin Luther have known what would come of his conviction? Who would have thought that my life would be forever changed by the lesson a Sunday School teacher shared with her 5 year old class. (One of here students told me I had to be baptized in order to get to Heaven.)
Who can measure the potential of a sneeze. What will be the result of their consequence. Time will tell. Eternity will give a summation.
In short, your ministry matters. The work you do will make a difference. Lives will be changed. You may feel that you are only planting seeds, but know that the God of the harvest will cause your little seed to come to fruition. When it does, it will be more than you can measure.
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To give a little history as to how some of the heavy-handed authoritative traits came into play among pastors you have to trace back to the charismatic movement. Out of the charismatic movement there was the evolving of a concept called “shepherding.”
The Latter Rain movement actually had its earliest beginnings in the late 1800’s and was born out of the Methodist and Holiness camp-meeting environment. It would continue to generate momentum and experience growth during the post-World War II years and be much encouraged by the Charismatic movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Marked by extreme excess and abuse of the gifts of the Spirit, this activity led to the production of “prophets” who had little use for personal holiness and consecration. After a while it appeared that they only had a desire for their own personal kingdoms to grow.
As time went by these intruders became susceptible to moral and ethical failures. The subsequent fallout from their failures caused many who followed them to be led astray by their repulsive actions. In an effort to recover from these shenanigans a group of leaders came together and formed what was called “The Shepherding Movement.” Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles Simpson, and Don Basham were the primary founders of this loosely formed organization who determined that its sole purpose would be to form a system of personal accountability. Later a fifth leader, Ern Baxter would be added to make up what was referred to as the “Fort Lauderdale Five.”
They decided that their work would be modeled after the pattern of Paul mentoring his sons in the faith, Timothy and Titus. They would work toward building a system of accountability that would form deeper relationships among pastors, ministry development at all levels, and ethical standards with emphasis on moral and financial dealings.
The whole system worked with the idea that anyone who came into the church needed a“shepherd.” After witnessing the moral collapse of several prominent men, this seemed to be a good and necessary thing. Who could object to the need for spiritual leadership and accountability? It became very heavy on authority and control in a manner that even simple decisions of daily living had to be monitored and approved by the pastor/leader of local congregations.
As an example, the leader would have to make the final decisions on car purchases, home mortgages, and job opportunities. In some cases, the “shepherd” would designate who young men and young women would marry to the degree that the marriages were arranged and carried through. The “shepherd” would have almost complete control over the personal finances. The parishioners would bring their paychecks to him and he would cash them and take his cut which was oftentimes more than 10% and give them the remainder. So as you can see the role of the pastor changed into an extreme form of authoritative control.
Some of the characteristics of the Shepherding system are as follow:
• Discipleship only takes place when one is committed to the group, cell ministry, and its leader.
• The only hope of salvation is extreme devotion to the shepherd of the group. This indicates the leader has more power to save than does Jesus Christ.
• Jesus Christ does not work directly in the life of the follower but rather He works through a system of delegated authority that flows down from the shepherd. You are to submit to this man as you would submit to God.
• Our relationship with God is not primary but rather it works in tandem with the power of a shepherd who has total control over the present, material world we live in.
• Our obedience[ read more...]
HE GOT UP AND OUT, NOW WE CAN GET THROUGH
I want to tell everyone; “Because He lives, I am able to overcome whatever.” I am so grateful for the Cross where my sins were nailed and wrath was endured by Jesus, but without the Resurrection all would be for nothing. His rising tells all loud and clear: He was right, His teachings are correct, His sacrifice was enough, divine justice has been satisfied, the blessing of the Holy Ghost would be coming as planned, and anybody who will believe will receive.
Oh, just to think how Jesus defeated the devil in three places: on Earth, on the cross, and through the tomb. I just can't even describe just how I feel. We who have been redeemed and born again know the empty tomb is far more than a story: He lives and lives within us…. The total history that has been accomplished by that empty tomb should inspire each of us to become better Praisers, Givers, and Livers. To think that God, Himself, designed the entire episode so that we could be set free from our sins and become fit vessels for His Spirit to indwell. The raising of Jesus from the dead has revealed the great power of God Himself, for in doing this, the defeat of sin and Satan is now totally obvious. Jesus is alive, making this thing called Christianity a living demonstration of glory and power.[ read more...]
Motivating yourself to get going and gain momentum is one thing, but inspiring others is another. It starts with your own motivation and continues with strategies that speak to your people. Use the following ideas to give those around you an extra boost of motivation:
• Communicate with Clarity. Before you try to motivate others to act, be sure you know exactly what to ask for. Then communicate it as simply and clearly as you can. After all, people cannot do what they do not understand.
• Be Committed to a Purpose. The one common denominator of all great people in history is that they believed in what they were doing. They were dedicated and committed to their vision and purpose. People will always be persuaded more by the depth of your convictions than by the height of your logic. So, to motivate others, always show them your commitment.
• Give People Recognition. Few things motivate us better than praise. When you tell others that they are doing a great job, it makes them want to work even harder to continue earning your praise. We all have a desire to feel needed and important. For that reason, recognition can be the most dynamic of all motivating factors.
[ read more...]
One of the most frustrating and worrisome questions a pastor has to continually ask himself is, "Where is the money going to come from."
· Lord you called me to this city for the purpose of revival.
· You have commissioned the church to go out into the highways and byways to compel people to come.
· This gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all nations for Your Name sake.
· Lord you said that we need pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists, and apostles.
· We need them for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body.
· We need land, buildings, and ministers to house this revival.
How are we going to accomplish Your will without the finances that we need?[ read more...]
In his book, The Turning Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes the work of the connector. The connectors he explains are important to social epidemics. The reason why a new restaurant would become the new hotspot in the community might well depend a great deal on the work of the connector. You see, a connector is the person in the market place who tells all their friends about the great deal they just got at Wall Mart. Or the fantastic food they ate at a new restaurant. Every church has connectors in them.
I have identified my wife as being a connector. Should Natalie find a bargain at say Wall Mart, she will immediately call her mother and sister on the phone and them about the great deal and why they should head over to Wall Mart as soon as they get off work. My wife is a connector. She loves telling people about everything from the newest restaurant, to the store who has a sale on paper napkins.
My life was changed by a connector. I was 17 years old when I came into contact with this person. 95% of the relationships I have today are a direct result of this one connector in my life. Mike was his name. Had this person never told me about and invited me to his church, I never would have met most of the people who I now know as my close friends and colleagues. He was not a preacher. He was a connector.
Something excited him about his church and he could not help himself to share it with someone else. Mike is not an orator. He is not a teacher of God’s word. But he connected me to the people who would eventually change my life.
We all have had the work of a connector in our lives. They introduced us to the church. They introduced us to our spouse. They told us the kind of car we should buy. They work behind the scenes to promote projects, products and agendas and they do it every day without pay or recognition. You might say it’s their personality. I would say it’s more of an obsession with some people.
My wife can’t help herself. She has to share her good fortune. I have told her in the past to keep some bargains to herself. Like the beautiful new dress she just got off a clearance rack for a few bucks. I tell her let people think you paid a little something for it, but no, she has to tell the world where they can get the same deal. She loves to be the connector.[ read more...]
What is failure? Is it permanent? Is there a second chance? Complete the sentence by circling the right phrase “a person is a failure when…”
- He makes a mistake;
- He quits;
- Someone thinks he is.
Review - Failure should be a teacher, not an undertaker. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end street. A winner is big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them.
Repress - Perhaps your own personal problems and hang-ups caused the failure. If so, begin to work immediately on self-discipline. If you were the problem, put yourself under control. Lord Nelson, England’s famous naval hero, suffered from seasickness throughout his entire life. Yet the man who had destroyed Napoleon’s fleet did not let illness interfere with his career.[ read more...]
One church may be in a small rural community where it is easy to develop close personal relationships. Another may be in a big city where shallow impersonal relationships are the standard. (In the country they all wave to each other – even to strangers. In the metro areas, they don’t speak to one another even when they walk abreast on the streets.
One town may have a growing populating while another may have a shrinking population. Industry is brining people into one area and as a result the pews seem to fill up all by themselves. Factory shutdowns may be causing another town to be losing its population, hence it looks like the church is not doing a good job since it too is shrinking.
One town may have a wealthy populace while another may be in a poverty stricken area. There is not going to be much need for a food bank in a wealthy area, but it may bring many new contacts and converts to a church in an impoverished area. If a pastor of the wealthy community says, “Hey, we need a food bank.” since he sees the success of the struggling community church, he may be wasting church resources and time.
One church might be a new church and another very established. (Established doesn’t always mean it has arrived, it just means it’s been there for a while.) I have worked in 2 church start ups and in 4 established churches. It is much easier to get things started and rolling in a newer church than one that has been around for 50 years. I could get programs started in one day in that small baby church where it took me months to get the same program started in larger established churches. Because it works overnight in one town does not mean it will work over night in another.[ read more...]
How soon do you begin training people in leadership positions. Well, let me ask you – how long do you wait to help a baby walk? Until they learn to do it on their own? No, early in their development, you take them by the hands, lift them up, steady them and one step at a time you help them learn balance, endurance and strength. If you wait until a person is already involved in leadership to use them, they may have gotten their leadership skills from a source such as the corporate world where the same values are not shared in the church. Start working with people early. Trust them. Some will fail and embarrass you. Others will succeed and astound you.
How soon do you use them in leadership positions? Generally before you feel they are 100% ready. There is always a need for leadership help in the church. You will find that as soon as you begin raising up a person in the church for a position, God will begin raising up a position in the church for a person. The reason many churches do not have certain ministries in their churches is not because the needs are not there for those ministries, it is because there are not people ready to lead those ministries.
How soon do you move someone out of a ministry? As soon as you have another ministry to advance that person to and someone to take their place. Never leave someone in a position for years if that person has the ability to excel into another office or ministry in the church.[ read more...]
There’s a difference between leadership and management. Management consists primarily of three things: analysis, problem solving and planning. If you go to any management course, you’ll find it revolves around those three things. But leadership consists of communicating your Vision and Values.
If you don’t clarify the purposes as the leader, who will?
Here are a few guidelines:
Believe it or not, the bigger your vision, the easier it is to reach. People are rarely motivated by small visions. They will follow a big vision easier than a little one. People need a purpose. Giving them a grand vision will enable them to connect as some level with that vision. If your vision is narrow, you may fail to interest some people. However, if your vision is large, it will leave plenty of room for others to get involved.
Don’t worry about solving the problem before casting the vision. A good example of visionary leadership would be the United States President, John F. Kennedy. Regardless of what you think about his politics, Kennedy stood up one day in the early 1960’s and said, “We will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.” He was clear; he was precise; and the vision was something people could look to. Now, here’s the interesting thing – when he said it, the technology to put a man on the moon hadn’t even been developed. That’s visionary leadership! Just because you don't have all the pieces of the puzzle just yet, does not mean that you can't share the vision. Let others come along side you who will bring those pieces to the table.
Your God determines how big your goal is. So, how big do you think God is? The issue is not who do you think you are, but who do you think God is? In your dreams for ministry, don’t limit yourself by saying, “What can I do?” Instead ask, “What can God do? What can God do in this place?” Then, use every single tool and resource that God puts in front of you - no matter what it looks like. Judging whether or not a resource if "of God" will limit God's ability to bless you in your work for Him.[ read more...]